RAPHOE LADIES were given a sharp lesson of what life in Ulster’s Premier League will be like by Ballymoney this evening.
Raphoe 0 Ballymoney 3
In their opening Denman Ulster Shield game – a fixture watched by the Ulster Hockey Union President Liz Lamont – a prelude to the League season, Richard Tinney’s team were undone by a clinical Ballymoney, who made the Donegal side pay for defensive errors.
Raphoe’s ladies are looking forward to playing top-flight hockey for the first time ever, after winning promotion from their maiden campaign in Senior One last season.
They competed here in spells and defended well for the most part, but were undone by goals from Catherine Knipe, Ruth Sutherland and Catherine Gawn.[adrotate group=”37″]
Sutherland’s goal, Ballymoney’s second, just before half-time was the killer blow, struck with venom past Denise McElhinney, who continued her excellent record of facing penalty strokes, denying Anna Gawn what would’ve been a fourth Ballymoney goal late in the day.
McElhinney had been the hero for Raphoe in a 3-1 penalty-stroke win over Rainey that, ultimately, was the key to the top flight’s gates for Raphoe last season.
They were under the cosh from the off tonight at the Royal and Prior and fell a goal behind after just eight minutes with Knipe turning home after McElhinney had saved well.
Earlier, McElhinney was at full stretch to keep out a blistering drive by Knipe.
Nikkie Parke and Gawn both went close to doubling the lead while Victoria Wray bravely blocked a stinging shot by Sutherland.
Raphoe had little joy in the final third, with a cheeky nutmeg by Katy Love on the right flank the highlight of a half in which they didn’t work the Ballymoney goalkeeper, Jodie Shannon.
Sutherland struck the second before half-time and a close-range finish by Gawn made it 3-0 in the 45th minute.
Raphoe are without the influential Wendy Patterson, Louise Moran, Rachel Patterson – last year’s captain – Leanne Patterson and Lisa Patterson; massive blows for any side entering the top tier for the first time.[adrotate group=”70″]
Grace Hand, a recent recruit to Raphoe, made her first appearance, and the Foyle College student showed up well for the home side, although their forays forward were all too infrequent.
At the other end, McElhinney prevented the scoreline from entering a rather more harsh realm, saving from Sarah Jamison and then beating away the penalty by Nawn with the game’s final act.
Raphoe: Denise McElhinney, Victoria Wray, Sarah Boal, Arlyne Kilpatrick, Lyndsey Tinney, Sarah Patterson, Sabrina Barnett, Kimberley Porter, Shannon Porter, Katy Love, Grace Hand, Lesley-Ann Stevenson, Jasmine Tinney, Riannagh Witherow, Wendy Patterson.
Ballymoney: Jodie Shannon, Catherine Gawn, Lauren Steen, Catherine Knipe, Gayle Adams, Laura McCurdy, Nikkie Parke, Bridget McClelland, Ruth Sutherland, Jan Hamilton, Ellie Keegan, Sarah Jamison, Laura Finnerty, Anna Nawn.Tags: